All-vegan Soy Concha Bakery is closing its doors in Santa Ana

Soy Concha Bakery employee Don Adolfo Farias shelves a tray maiz-shaped bread known as elotes.
Soy Concha Bakery employee Don Adolfo Farias shelves a tray maiz-shaped bread known as elotes. The vegan panadería in Santa Ana is shuttering on Saturday.
(Gabriel San Román )

Like any other day in the kitchen, Kathy Lopez readied ingredients to bake sweet treats like Gansito tres leches and chocoflan cakes at Soy Concha Bakery in Santa Ana.

A wafting saccharine aroma from a row of freshly baked pan dulce greeted customers walking through the doors.

But a month ago, the vegan panadería announced that it would not be renewing its lease at Bristol Civic Plaza, where it had made its home since 2017.


“It was a hard decision,” said Lopez, the bakery’s co-owner and cake decorator. “But I think it’s the best decision for my family. And I don’t feel as sad because I know we’re not fully stepping away.”

Before serving Mexican sweet bread free of eggs, milk or lard, Lopez and Ross Mazariegoes, her husband, originally opened up Victoria’s Bakery in the same location in 2011. It served pupusas, tortas and birria along with traditional pan dulce.

The panadería converted to vegan food after Lopez’s brother Earvin, who helped open Victoria’s Bakery, made the dietary change for himself.

Lopez admitted she hadn’t heard of veganism before that.

Chicana Vegana started as a pop-up tent, before it became a food truck. Now, she’s preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Fullerton.

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Mazariegoes, as the head baker, and his brother-in-law began experimenting with different recipes to remake cultural staples free of animal-derived ingredients.

“They tried to ‘veganize’ pan dulce without eggs or milk,” Lopez said. “After many trials, they eventually got it right.”

The bakery fully transitioned to animal-free fare, changed its name to Vegan by Victoria and made a successful pop-up appearance at SoCal VegFest, a vegan food festival at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, before rebranding as Soy Concha Bakery.

At first bite, customers couldn’t even tell that the conchas, orejas, cuernitos and other sweet treats were vegan unless they were told.

Kathy Lopez holds a tray of "vegansitos," a play on words for their vegan version of the popular Mexican Gansito snack cakes.
Kathy Lopez holds a tray of “vegansitos,” a play on words for their vegan version of the popular Mexican Gansito snack cakes.
(Gabriel San Román)

“We try to keep the closest possible authenticity to the culture,” Lopez said. “We use almond, soy and coconut milk substitutes, but the flavor is still there. The sazón of how the recipes were originally taught to us is there. We’re keeping the family traditions in all the recipes that we make, even as they’re vegan.”

The bakery even made vegan Rosca de Reyes, an oval-shaped crown-decorated cake traditionally eaten to celebrate El Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day, on Jan. 6.

Once informed of the swap, the Latino community kept coming back, especially during the difficult days of the pandemic.

Orange County is home to multiple eateries ranging from casual counter-service taquerias to full-service sit-down restaurants all specializing in plant-based Mexican food.

Feb. 16, 2022

“The older generation didn’t know much about veganism,” Lopez said. “It is a healthier option, and they have taken a liking to it. Apart from that, we have a lot of support from the vegan community itself.”

News of Soy Concha Bakery’s closing struck both communities as bittersweet as it stands as a rarity in being a fully vegan panadería in Southern California.

Its last day of business is Saturday.

The location is already being remodeled by new tenants set to move in on Monday.

A box of assorted treats from Soy Concha Bakery in Santa Ana
(Gabriel San Román)

The family-owned bakery still maintains a second location in East Los Angeles off of the famed Whittier Boulevard thoroughfare, but Earvin is looking to shop the “Soy Concha” brand altogether.

Until then, the bakery will take delivery orders from around Orange County through its website, business phone and social media accounts. Soy Concha will also announce pop-up appearances from time to time.

“We are really grateful to the vegan and Orange County communities,” Lopez said. “We’re here to keep serving them the best that we can.”